American Philosophical Society
Member History

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302. Economics[X]
1Name:  Dr. Christopher A. Sims
 Institution:  Princeton University
 Year Elected:  2012
 Class:  3. Social Sciences
 Subdivision:  302. Economics
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1942
Christopher A. Sims is the Harold H. Helm '20 Professor of Economics and Banking at Princeton University. Born in Washington, DC he earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1968. He won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2011. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (1988), National Academy of Sciences (1989), and American Economic Association (president, 2011- ). There are relatively few cases in which it can be said that a single person revolutionized an entire mode of intellectual inquiry, but that is the case with Christopher Sims and time series econometrics. His 1972 result that postwar data confirmed the existence of a unilateral causal relationship from money supply to GDP strongly influenced subsequent research on monetary policy. Subsequently, he single-handedly invented the Vector Autoregression (VAR) technique, and he has been a leader in many of the subsequent refinements and extensions of VAR methodology as well. Before Sims’ seminal work, there was a seemingly-unending battle over which variables were "exogenous" and which were "endogenous." For example, how can the government’s fiscal and monetary policy decisions be considered exogenous, when they likely respond to macroeconomic events? The VAR technique virtually ended that debate by treating all variables symmetrically (for example, tax cuts influence GDP, but GDP also influences tax cuts), and looking to learn about the macroeconomy via timing relationships. VARs are now ubiquitous in macroeconomics, which was and remains Sims’ main field of interest; indeed, virtually every empirical paper in macroeconomics begins (and many end) with VARs. But VARs are also used outside the realm of macroeconomics - almost anywhere time series data is analyzed. They have become the standard way to ferret out the "stylized facts." There is an old saying "let the data speak"; VARs have become the language through which time series data speaks. He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2012.
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